Portuguese Water Dog

Temperament: Affectionate, Adventurous, Athletic

  • Height: 20-23 inches (male), 17-21 inches (female)
  • Weight: 42-60 pounds (male), 35-50 pounds (female)
  • Life Expectancy: 11-13 years
  • Group: Working Group 
 The bright and biddable Portuguese Water Dog was bred to be an all-around fisherman’s helper. The robust, medium-sized body is covered by a coat of tight, low-shedding curls. They are eager and athletic companions built for water work. 


This highly intelligent utilitarian breed is distinguished by two coat types, either curly or wavy; an impressive head of considerable breadth and well proportioned mass; a ruggedly built, well-knit body; and a powerful, thickly based tail, carried gallantly or used purposefully as a rudder. The Portuguese Water Dog provides an indelible impression of strength, spirit, and soundness.

About the Portuguese Water Dog

The Portuguese Water Dog is super-smart and very biddable—meaning he’s easy to train and eager to please. The breed can be groomed in two styles: The retriever clip (the entire coat is clipped to one inch in length, with the tail tip at full length) or the more check-me-out lion clip, where the coat on the hindquarters and muzzle is clipped down to the skin.

NUTRITION The Portuguese Water Dog should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.

GROOMING The Portuguese Water Dog’s dense, profuse coat is hypoallergenic but requires regular and extensive grooming. The coat ranges in appearance from tight and curly to loose and wavy. It may be kept in the lion clip (where the coat on the hindquarters and muzzle is clipped to the skin) or the retriever clip (where the entire coat is clipped to one inch in length and follows the outline of the dog). Beyond regular weekly grooming, an occasional bath will keep the Portia clean and looking his best.

EXERCISE An athletic, active breed, the Portuguese Water Dog requires vigorous exercise every day to keep him healthy and happy. This can come in the form of long daily walks and play sessions with his owner. This extremely versatile breed also exercises mind and body by participating in canine sports such as obedience, tracking, agility, rally, dock diving, and other activities that can be enjoyed by dog and owner. For many enthusiasts, the most special of all the training and exercise options for the Portie is water work.

TRAINING The Portuguese Water Dog is very intelligent and responds well to obedience training. He is demanding of attention and human contact, and greets friends and family with unbridled enthusiasm. The breed often thinks independently, and a Portia may sometimes challenge his owner’s will. He requires positive training methods as well as daily mental and physical exercise. Porties can sometimes be too exuberant for families with very young children.

HEALTH Portuguese Water Dogs are generally healthy, and responsible breeders test their stock for health disorders and communicate with other dedicated breeders regularly, working together for breed health and preservation of the breed’s unique qualities. A Portie’s ears should be checked regularly for signs of infection, and the teeth should be brushed often, using a toothpaste designed for dogs.

Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club:

  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation
  • Hip Evaluation
  • PRA Optigen DNA Test
  • GM-1 DNA Test
  • JDCM DNA Test

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